The first round of the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is in the books, and Nick Taylor has a two-stroke lead on everyone else in the field. He closed birdie-birdie for the 63 and the lead late in the day after the other contenders had already headed to the house. We’ll look at Taylor, his chasers and some of the celebrities in the field below as we recap the day that was on the Pacific Ocean.
Course reminder: Players play three different courses over the first three days so scores can be misleading. The average scores at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill were similar (high 71s), but the scores at Monterey Peninsula Country Club were a stroke lower. So anyone near the lead who played Monterey Peninsula first might be a bit of an illusion.
First place — Nick Taylor (-8): After firing an 8-under 63 at Monterey Peninsula, Taylor leads by two over Patrick Cantlay and Chase Seiffert. Like I noted off the top, Monterey Peninsula was playing about a stroke easier than the other two courses, so it’s not unfair to view all three of them as fairly bunched together at the top since they all played different courses.
The real power player here is Cantlay, who came in as one of the favorites and leaves Round 1 as the +350 favorite to win, according to William Hill. He has a strong history here and is by far the biggest talent at the very top of this board. The tournament is now his to lose after his 6-under 66 at Spyglass Hill.
Cantlay’s breakthrough win came last year at the Memorial Tournament, and he’s maybe the quietest top-10 golfer of the last several years. His iron play suits Pebble beautifully, and he still has the easiest of the three courses, Monterey Peninsula, later in the week.
Last place — David Duval (+12): It was a tough day for Duval, who lost strokes in every category of his game and lost seven on approach shots. He had three doubles and a triple (not the kind of triple-double you’re going for, I suppose) en route to his 84 at Pebble Beach.
Other contenders — Harold Varner III (-5), Max Homa (-5), Phil Mickelson (-4), Jason Day (-4), Dustin Johnson (-3): I’m delighted about Homa, who is coming in off two straight top 10s, because he was my one-and-done pick this week. He’s been playing truly terrific golf and finished in the top 10 at this event last year as well. Mickelson played Spyglass so his score holds up and he ended his day with three straight birdies for the 4-under 68. When he won here last year, he opened 65-68-70 before closing with a sick 65 on Sunday for the three-stroke victory. Improbably, he’s off to another really strong start this year.
Amateur board: The amateur side of this tournament remains a huge draw, and after 18 holes a familiar duo is at the top. Kevin Streelman and Larry Fitzgerald shot 61 on Thursday at Spyglass Hill. Those two won two years ago in 2018 by seven strokes. Translation: Might be time to check Fitzgerald’s handicap!
Low QB: Fitzgerald led all NFL players, but Eli Manning won the QB-off in Round 1. His team shot 8 under to beat out his brother, Peyton, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan on Day 1. It would be a very Eli move to take home the QB belt in his first-ever appearance at this tournament.
What to watch on Day 2: It’s Cantlay’s to lose at this point, but I want to see who of the big dogs behind him — D.J., Mickelson and Day — makes a little run. Jordan Spieth (-2) is also sort of in the mix after his 70 at Spyglass Hill. Hopefully it will click for him this week, and we get a Class of 2011 dual on Sunday with Spieth and Cantlay.